Students Advancing Biological Research & Engagement

Biology students working on research are most productive when they can spend 20-40 hours a week in the lab during summer hours, but the majority of them cannot afford to volunteer that much of their time. As a result, they miss important educational opportunities that can lead to significant progress in their scientific education, publications, conference presentations, and ultimately, their careers.

The current goal is to have funding available for at least five students by the 2015 summer sessions.

Meet the Fall 2014 SABRE candidates and learn about their research plans:

Jamie Hentig

Jamie is from Rockford, Michigan. He served as an Airborne Medic in Afghanistan and suffered spine and traumatic brain injuries in the line of duty, and was subsequently retired as a disabled combat veteran. Jamie began pursuing a degree in Biology at WMU in 2012, and became interested in the connection between neurogenesis and traumatic brain injuries through research in Dr. Christine Byrd-Jacobs’s laboratory. Previous work from the lab has shown a specific type of neuron in zebrafish that enables the detection of certain odors to regenerate in the nose after injury. The aim of Jamie’s project is to observe if this type of neuron always regenerates prior to others, and if so, why? His research will inform further studies to investigate whether the consistent return of one type of neuron prior to others is an evolutionary survival mechanism, if this mechanism is related to neuroprotection and why this particular neuron differs from others that regenerate later. Jamie’s interests in neurodegenerative diseases have inspired him to volunteer at Friends Dementia Community in Kalamazoo.

Peyton Johnson

Peyton is from Southfield, Michigan. She will graduate from WMU in 2015 with a degree in Biomedical Sciences. Peyton has been working with Biological Sciences faculty mentor Dr. Don Kane to analyze a mutation in the cell division cycle 20 (cdc20) gene in zebrafish. This gene is responsible for proper cell division, or progression, and mutations in this gene cause zebrafish embryos to cease development between metaphase and anaphase. Because of its crucial role in cell cycle development, expression of the cdc20 gene has important implications for cancer research. Peyton will utilize molecular approaches to induce mutations in wild type cdc20 and examine the resulting mutant embryo phenotype. Peyton will volunteer at the West Michigan Cancer Center where she is looking forward to providing comfort and emotional support with the patients visiting the center, as well as gain a first-hand view of oncologists in action, which is the career path she would like to pursue. 

Monique Pipkin

Monique is from Auburn Hills, Michigan. She is a Biology major who began her studies in the Fall 2012 after being awarded a prestigious Medallion Scholarship by the Lee Honors College. As a part of the SABRE program, Monique will be working with BIOS faculty mentor Dr. Sharon Gill to explore the effects of anthropogenic noise on animal communication. Anthropogenic noise is generated by human activities and machinery and has increased dramatically worldwide. Noise overlaps the signals that animals use to communicate, which may affect both their survival and reproductive success. Monique will explore how noise affects transmission of bird song through the environment. She will also channel her love of nature and volunteer with the Southwest Michigan Land Conservancy to assist in the preservation of wild places.